After 13 years of legal battle over the ownership of Winners Chapel, the Accra High Court has dismissed a suit by Winners Chapel International (WCI) which sought to evict winners Chapel Ghana (WCG) from the church premises and claim all properties belonging to the church.
The court, presided over by Mr Justice K.A. Ofori-Atta, held that WCI, headed by Bishop David Oyedepo, was not duly registered in Ghana, as prescribed by the Companies Act, 1963 (Act 179) and, and therefore, it had no legal basis to operate a church or any other business in Ghana.
The court concluded, “that all the acts purported to have been done by the plaintiff in breach of sections 27, 196 and 197 are illegal and invalid.”
It, however, held that WCG, headed by Bishop George Adjeman, had been registered in accordance with the law and, therefore, had the legal backing to operate.
“On the available evidence, I am satisfied the name Winners Chapel Ghana has been duly registered for business in the country,” Mr Justice Ofori-Atta said.
In 2012, Bishop Adjeman, who was a pastor of WCI in Nigeria, was transferred by the church to head its branch in Ghana.
According to the documents filed by lawyers for Bishop Adjeman in the case, when he came to Ghana, he realized that the church was not being run properly.
The church, he claimed, had no structures in place to ensure that its books were properly audited and also every aspect of its operations was being done without recourse to the law.
He claimed that the church had not appointed an auditor, it had no certificate to commence business and its finances and general administration were being managed badly.
Court documents showed that in 2004, the Registrar-General’s Department asked all companies that had registered with it to update their records.
Bishop Adjeman, the court document revealed, used the opportunity to “properly register the church” and named it WCG and broke ranks with the mother church in Nigeria based on his assertion of gross mismanagement.
The court, however, was of the view that although WCI was not duly registered and, therefore, could not lawfully claim any properties being contested to the acquisition of those properties.
The court has ordered that any property acquired between 1996 and 1997 when the church was established until 2004 when WCI and WCG went their separate ways be valued and shared among the two bodies.